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SGI® Altix® ICE Powers NASA Pleiades Supercomputer, the Number One Open System On Top500 List Based On Intel


NASA’s Supercomputer Relies on Altix ICE for Climate Modeling, Top Performance and Leading Energy Efficiency

Fremont, CA, and Portland, OR, Supercomputing 2009, Booth #1721 - SGI (NASDAQ: SGI), a global leader in HPC and data center solutions, today announced that, for the second year in a row, NASA’s Pleiades Supercomputer at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., was certified by the TOP500 list as one of the fastest supercomputers in the world as measured by the LINPACK Benchmark.

The fastest supercomputer on the November 2009 list based on an open systems approach (commodity processor, operating system and interconnect), the Pleiades supercomputer ranked sixth overall. It is powered by Altix® ICE 8200EX, which helps the world’s most sophisticated HPC installations solve their most complex scientific computing problems. Recently, the system was enhanced with 2,304 additional Intel® Xeon® X5570 processors (9,216 cores) to drive advanced earth science research.

“NASA scientists are leading the way in climate, weather and oceanic modeling,” said Mark J. Barrenechea, president and CEO of SGI. “This is important work that affects current and future generations. SGI is proud to partner with NASA to provide the necessary infrastructure to enable its research.”

One of the most powerful, general-purpose supercomputers ever built, the Altix ICE installation at NASA employs 14,080 quad-core Intel® Xeon® processors for a total of 56,320 cores in 110 racks, reaching a peak performance of 673 TFLOPS. Pleiades features the world’s largest open system using Linux OS, Intel processors and InfiniBand cluster. At 544.3 TFLOPS on 56,320 cores, it is one of the industry’s most efficient systems in the Top 10, with 9.7 GFLOPS per core as measured by the LINPACK Benchmark, the industry standard for measuring a system’s floating point computing power. Pleiades also includes four petabytes of storage via SGI® InfiniteStorage 15000, a high performance SAS-based storage system utilizing high capacity SATA drives.

“We were very pleased with the performance of Pleiades before this enhancement,” said William Thigpen, Pleiades project manager at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames. “With SGI’s integration of the new Nehalem processors, we are seeing a 2.4x increase in the science that can be done on the system.”

“Platforms based on Intel Xeon series processors, like SGI Altix ICE, have brought essential new capabilities to the supercomputing industry,” said Richard Dracott, general manager of Intel’s High Performance Computing Group. “We are thrilled to have worked so closely with SGI to develop powerful, fast and energy-efficient systems that excel in the world’s most demanding HPC application environments.”

The TOP500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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